House Passes Bills to Reduce Legislature

rotundaAfter lengthy floor debate, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed bills that would reduce both the size of the House and the Senate.

House Bill 1234 reduces the size of the House from 203 to 153 members, and House Bill 1716 reduces the Senate from 50 to 38 members. Both are sponsored by Speaker Sam Smith (R-Armstrong).

HB 1234 passed with 148 yea’s to 50 nay’s; HB 1716 passed with 150 yea’s and 48 nay’s.

The bills do not come with any great cost-savings, but are instead intended to improve the deftness of the General Assembly.

“Reducing the number of members would make the General Assembly, and the House in particular, more efficient in its ability to debate and deliberate legislation by allowing members to have a better understanding of how issues are viewed differently in different areas,” Smith said. “It has become pretty evident reaching a consensus with 203 people on major and controversial issues has proven more difficult in recent times.”

Opponents of the bill spoke of the decrease in representation and access to constituents, particularly in rural districts that are more difficult to travel.

“Let us not alter the one branch of government that has the closest reach to the people,” Representative Bob Freeman (D-Northampton) argued. “Let us retain the easy ability of constituents to personally express their view and have influence directly.”

Other members, including Rep. Curtis Thomas decried the bills’ unintended consequences in diversity of representation. Thomas stated that diverse representation would be harmed by this bill and minority voices would not be adequately heard with fewer representatives.

In addition to efficiency of debate, arguments in favor of the bills discussed the ways that technology has improved access to constituents, and the large comparative size of the PA legislature compared to other states.

The two bills now move to the Senate, where a source close to the body said that the bills have nearly no chance of passage and will likely not leave committee.

Attempts to reduce the size of the General Assembly have persisted since the late 1960s, but all have failed.

11 Responses

  1. Throughout this awesome design of things you’ll get an A+ for effort and hard work. Where exactly you actually lost me was in the particulars. As as the maxim goes, details make or break the argument.. And it could not be much more accurate at this point. Having said that, let me inform you exactly what did give good results. Your authoring is certainly rather persuasive which is possibly why I am taking an effort in order to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, even though I can certainly see the jumps in reason you make, I am not necessarily certain of just how you seem to connect your ideas which in turn make the conclusion. For the moment I will, no doubt subscribe to your position however trust in the near future you actually connect your dots much better.

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  2. The problem with this plan is that rural communities will loose their representation as our Representatives will be forced to deal with larger cities and their issues. Rural communities will get neglected.

  3. If efficiency in government is the goal, here’s an even better solution – one person rule dictatorship – it’s the most efficient form of government there is. And gosh, efficient government has worked so well for humanity throughout history too. There’s just scores of examples.

  4. The issue is not size and management, the issue is money and disclosure. The legislature was enlarged years ago to give the rural population more balance of power compared to the business centers of the large cities. Passing this legislation is a political move with no chance of passage.

    We need legislative leaders and judges willing to fight the pervasive corruption in PA. If government leaders and judges followed the law, the state would be a place we could be proud of again. Right now, we are no longer the Keystone state.

  5. There are a whole host of reasons why this is terrible legislation and a terrible idea, but the biggest one that should be on everyone’s mind is this: a smaller legislature is easier to buy, especially in PA’s no-donation-limits-whatsoever political environment.

  6. No surprise W. Curtis Thomas would be the first to play the race card. Next up we will have Sims play the gay card.

    Why not start with eliminating the Senators? A reduced number in the House would benefit the taxpayers provided those remaining are mandated to spend a specific amount of time each year with their constituents.

  7. So Speaker Smith is saying we should have less representation so his job is easier.

    Why does he hate democracy?

  8. Looks like “me” and David want PA to be mini North Korea. A shame you commie schmucks won’t get what you want this time.

  9. So, how will this work? Who gets to decide what legislators are done? When will this change happen? If it’s the Republicans, prepare for a permanent GOP majority. Seriously, Pennsylvania is pretty much one of the worst states in North America. It’s already Texas North, now that’s just going to be set in stone.

  10. Can we just remove 50 Republicans from the House, and 12 Republicans from the Senate?

    That would go a long way to solving the problems. 🙂

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